John Lennon's 1971 song "Imagine" encouraged a generation to imagine there is no heaven or hell, and to instead embrace "living for today." Over 40 years later, many evangelicals are following Lennon's advice.
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We look forward to the day of judgement because as Christians it will be a day of celebration, not a day of wrath. For as Christians, if we hold true to the faith until death we are guaranteed a place in Heaven. We will not rejoice in the reality that many will be consigned to the lake of fire, but we will take solace that our God, while a God of mercy, is also a God of justice.
The correct biblical understanding of judgment is not the display of God's wrath towards sinful men, but rather God moving forward in order to set things right. In other words, it doesn't necessarily mean "punishment", especially for true believers. It may mean just the opposite, which means giving us a new body and a new world fit for the "new" us!
One thing that can really help us see this better is to recognize the terms of the New Covenant found in Heb 10:16-18, which is a direct quote from Jeremiah 31:33-34: "Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more." This particular term of the New Covenant should clearly reveal to us that God is not as much interested in counting our sins as much as we are.
On the other hand, the wrath of God must always be seen through covenant eyes and is always directed towards those who are outside of the covenant.
Lastly, Calvary should put all believers at ease because it is the place where God dealt with sin and death once and for all.
Thanks for your comments, Rick. I guess none of us truly know what will happen after death. I grew up with the "you must be saved" mentality and it's difficult to reject an idea that's been ingrained since childhood. I think of the abused, homeless or mentally ill who are not "saved" waking up to even more torment. But, we cannot comprehend the mysteries of life and the creator and so I pray that ALL will be made well. Again, thank you.
Shannon, we must be careful to only say what the Bible says and not go beyond. There is no scripture that I know of that says all who are not Christians will go to hell. David does say, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Psalm 9:16-18. That is also Jesus constant warning. A warning against the wicked, not those who got their theology wrong. The Pharisees had their theology correct and their heart wrong. If you can somehow construe Anne Frank as wicked then she qualifies for hell, but I can't. Nor can I view the victims in Aushwitz as wicked. Paul says in Romans that those that have never had a fair presentation of the gospel are responsible to their conscience. Hell was prepared for the implaccable, unredeemable, unremittingly evil creatures; the devil and his angels. If humans transform themselves into one of the devil's angels (messenger) then this fate is awaiting too. But even then, God judges the lost by the relative evil of their deeds.
Yes, I want all to be made well. Most humans feel the same. And most humans would do anything to relieve the suffering of an individual who is writhing in physical and mental agony. And yet, this is the plan of a creator who made this magnificent world... to allow the beings that he created to languish forever and ever and ever? Yes, I want to "imagine" that Grandpa is not in hell. I also want to "imagine" that no one is in hell. Rejoice? I find no comfort in this doctrine. I find complete and utter despair.
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